Bob Reynolds, chairman and CEO of Boston-based Putnam Investments, said that the wave of regulations coming out of Washington won't end in 2010. Speaking at the Innovation and Growth Forum sponsored by Spectrem Group and FA magazine on October 13, Reynolds predicted that the U.S. will have a federal insurance regulator next year.

A major reason behind the push for uniform insurance regulation was the reaction of many foreign insurers who have acquired U.S. insurers in recent years and found themselves confronted with the crazy, patchwork quilt of state insurance regulation, Reynolds explained.

A huge boom in various lifetime income products also is likely, according to Reynolds, who served as vice chairman and chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments, after he ran the Boston giant's 401(k) business. Lifetime income products will get "a whole lot of attention. Only half of working Americans are covered by 401(k)s," he noted.

Reynolds supports the creation of the Universal IRA, an expanded version of the current IRA, partly to help those Americans without 401(k)s or pensions. Before the Department of Labor created new transparency rules for 401(k) plans last week, Putnam expanded its 401(k) disclosures to participants.

Earlier this year, it redesigned the quarterly statements it sends to participants, changing the lens through which they view their accounts. The first page now looks like a paycheck. Partly as a consequence, contributions in Putnam's plans have climbed between 2% and 3% since then.

Reynolds also tossed out the idea of a national risk pool for annuities, not unlike FDIC insurance for bank accounts. And he thought 401(k) providers might some day offer long-term-care insurance with rollovers.

Asked whether he thought there was any possibility to privatize part of Social Security, an idea floated by former President George W. Bush in 2005, Reynolds said he didn't expect to see that concept revived again.

Within nine months after joining Putnam in the first half of '08, Reynolds introduced four absolute return mutual funds that seek to give investors 1%, 3%, 5% or 7% more than Treasury bills, respectively. He explained that while Putnam's retail business was having some problems that year, its institutional business was winning 32 new assignments-quite a bit of it on the strength of these products.

Since the four absolute return funds were rolled out in January 2009, they have captured $2.5 billion in assets from 9,000 brokers, advisors and RIAs. Reynolds believes the funds are very appropriate for investors approaching or entering retirement.

There's another reason he likes them. "Morningstar can't figure out where to put them," he jokes.